Can You Make Stir Fry In Advance? (How To Do It)


Cooking up a stir-fry is one of the quickest ways to prepare a tasty and nutritious meal. Meal prepping in advance can mean you have healthy meals for days to come. If you’re short on time you may be wondering how you can make stir fry in advance.

There are two methods you can try for making stir fry in advance. Either prepare portions of the ingredients prior to your mealtime so they’re ready to quickly stir fry, or cook it beforehand, chill it, and then reheat later.

If you’re storing and reheating food, always make sure it’s hot all the way through to avoid food poisoning. Read the section on reheating your stir-fry below to see what works best.

You can save a lot of time when it comes to actually cook the meal using either method. I’ve put together a few tips that I’ve found work really well to help make sure you get the best results.

How To Make Stir Fry In Advance

When it comes to making a stir-fry in advance, there are a couple of different ways you can do it.

You can either prepare the ingredients in advance so they’re all ready to go when you start cooking. This can be boxed up in portion sizes so you just tip one meal into the pan and have another portion ready for tomorrow.

Or you can cook the stir fry and heat it up later or eat it cold. This works well for lunches at the office when you don’t have a stove.

Getting the ingredients all prepped sometime before is my personal favorite as I find it really cuts down on the cooking time while still eating a freshly cooked meal. It also means I can get all of the chopping and slicing out of the way which is the most time-consuming part of the stir-fry process.

See my post on the best order to cook a stir fry to get the most out of your ingredients.

The main downside to this method is that the ingredients may not be as crunchy and fresh tasting. Some of the ingredients also don’t keep as well as others (anything that goes brown). So this method is best used if you’re only storing the ingredients for a few days max before using them.

If you’re short on time, then cooking the stir-fry in advance is a great option as it will only take a few minutes to heat up and be ready to eat. The meal will never be as good as a freshly prepared one – things go soggy and the taste changes a bit. But it’s certainly very convenient.

You will need to make sure everything is thoroughly heated through. This means that sometimes it’s easy to end up with a dish that’s a bit overcooked if you’re not careful.

Preparing Stir Fry In Advance To Cook Later

If you have the time beforehand, then preparing the ingredients in advance is definitely the way to go. Simply chop all of your vegetables and meat up as you would normally, and pre-cook the rice if making stir-fried rice.

Noodles can be cooked quickly so they don’t necessarily need cooking the day before, or buy ready-to-cook noodles.

You can then store everything in separate containers in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. This is a great method if you want to be able to just get straight on with stir-frying when you come to make the meal.

You can use this technique for any type of stir-fry as you can just follow the usual recipe much as if you had prepped it right before heating up the wok (see my wok guide). You end up with a freshly cooked meal that’s so much better than something that has been reheated.

Just make sure you don’t exceed the use-by date on any meat you are using and cook any prepared vegetables within a day or two so that they’re still relatively fresh.

Does Stir-Fry Reheat Well?

As long as you reheat your stir-fry fully, it will reheat very well. Reheating in a wok or pan has better results than a microwave as this can make vegetables soggy.

The key to reheating a stir-fry is to make sure it’s piping hot all the way through. This means heating it for a little longer than you might think is necessary, but not so long that it is overcooked.

What Is The Best Way To Reheat Stir-Fry?

A wok is the best way but requires clean up. A microwave is the easiest way but makes it soggy.

You can reheat your stir-fry in a wok or in a frying pan on the stove. If using a pan, heat it up until it’s smoking before adding oil, then the stir-fry, and then cook quickly over high heat, stirring constantly until everything is hot.

Another option is to reheat in the microwave but this isn’t my favorite as it can make the vegetables a bit soggy. If using this method, heat in minute bursts, stirring between each one, until everything is piping hot.

Once your stir-fry is heated through, it’s ready to serve. If you have one, you can use a food thermometer to check that it has reached 165° F which is the temperature at which it will be safe to eat.

Vegetables That Don’t Reheat So Well

There are some vegetables that don’t tend to reheat so well. These include many leafy type vegetables and those with a high water content such as:

  • Cabbage
  • Bok Choy
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli

If you’re using any of these vegetables in your stir-fry, it’s best to cook them freshly when you come to reheat the dish as they will be ready in roughly the same amount of time.

How Do You Store Cooked Stir-Fry?

Store cooked stir fry in individual containers until cool enough to put in the fridge. Make sure the containers are covered and consumed within 4 days.

If you’re intending to store any freshly cooked food, including stir-fry, for reheating later, it’s important to follow all the USDA recommended safety guidelines to avoid any food poisoning issues that could make you very sick.

  • Don’t store food at room temperature for longer than 2 hours
  • Cool food rapidly in individual portions
  • Store cooked food in airtight containers

Once you’ve cooked your stir-fry, allow it to cool a little and then cover it tightly with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. This helps the food retain moisture and keeps out bacteria.

This should be done no more than 2 hours after cooking but ideally as soon as possible as leaving food out at room temperature can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

How Long Can You Keep Stir-Fry In The Fridge?

If you cook your stir-fry properly and transfer it to the refrigerator within 2 hours, the USDA advises that most pre-cooked food can be kept for 3 or 4 days.

If you decide to freeze your stir-fry instead, then it should keep for 3 to 4 months at least.

Remember that the longer you keep food, generally the worse it becomes. It’s always better fresher as the ingredients, such as the veg, start to break down once chopped up. Cell walls are broken, moisture is lost, and tastes deteriorate.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of how to either prepare or make your stir-fry in advance to save you some time. This makes it much easier to enjoy a tasty stir fry when you want it.

Both methods are very effective although personally I like the taste of a freshly cooked meal so will try to just prep the ingredients the day before if I can.

But if you don’t have access to a stove later, then cooking your stir-fry a day or two beforehand and just reheating it is still a great way to do it.

Just make sure you follow all the food safety guidelines so that you don’t make yourself sick by not storing or reheating your dish properly.

Tom

Hey, I'm Tom. I set up Boss The Kitchen to start answering the thousands of questions people have while cooking. For me, the kitchen is my happy place and I hope to help other people with the knowledge I've gained along the way.

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